Four Corners Public Radio | By Sarah Flower

Published September 8, 2021 at 11:15 PM MDT

Sarah Flower
Aaron Kimble from Mountain Studies Institute (left) speaks to Senator Michael Bennet (right) and local officials at Lion’s Den at Fort Lewis College.

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet met with local officials in Durango to hear from them about their needs and how the proposed Outdoor Restoration Partnerships Act can help Southwest Colorado. KSUT’s Sarah Flower reports.

Story Transcript:

Sarah Flower  00:00
Senator Bennet listened to leaders from across the area including the Forest Service, Durango Fire Protection District, Southwest Conservation Corps, the City of Durango and La Plata County Commissioner Chair Marcia Porter-Norton. Much of the conversation centered around fire mitigation efforts and efforts on wildfire protection around the area, then is pushing to include the outdoor Restoration Partnerships Act in the budget package to the Senate. This bill would provide a 10-year, 40 to $60 billion investment in forest and watersheds. Bennett says that local collaboration on this act is essential.

Senator Michael Bennet  00:37
We want to support partnerships because it’s gonna require people working together; fire knows no political jurisdiction, and it’s gonna take collaboration to be able to do that. That’s why the bill is designed to have some of the money go to federal agencies and some of the money go to state and local agencies so that we can all work together on this project. And I’m cautiously optimistic that if we can get the bill done this will be part of it. But there’s still a big if about whether we’re going to get the bill done or not. And I’m here today just to hear a little bit about how you’re thinking about these kinds of issues because it helps me go back there and make the case in Washington.

Sarah Flower  01:14
Bennet also says that there is $2 billion of investment in the bipartisan bill for Tribal water infrastructure, and another $5 billion in the reconciliation bill in the Senate.